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Wow! That’s terrific bunny …

Federal judge strikes down Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s welfare drug testing law

A federal judge in Orlando, Florida ruled Tuesday that the state’s law requiring drug tests from all applicants for public assistance is unconstitutional. According to the New York Times, Judge Mary S. Scriven found that the law — Tea Party Gov. Rick Scott (R)’s signature piece of legislation — violates the U.S. Constitution’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

“The court finds there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied,” Scriven wrote.

South Korea: Rail Workers, Repression and Resistance

In South Korea, no one can hear you scream. Workers have the right to organize, just not the right to do anything with it.

As the strike dragged on -soon becoming the longest rail strike in Korean history -the repression intensified. On December 17, police raided the headquarters of the Korean Railway Workers’ Union (KRWU) in search of top leaders to arrest -but found none. Instead they confiscated office equipment. including disk drives and confidential documents. Two days later, they carried out similar raids on union offices in four other cities.

Frustrated by their inability to locate the union leaders, police then besieged the headquarters of the KCTU, where they believed the railway workers’ leaders had sought protection. Trade unionists formed a defensive cordon but eventually riot police charged the building, smashing down glass doors and firing pepper gas, causing several injuries. There were reports that some of the trade unionists responded with improvised water cannon.

On Christmas, Republicans Quietly Declare War on Themselves

The news came in the Wall Street Journal, where the Chamber of Commerce disclosed that it will be teaming up with Republican establishment leaders to spend $50 million in an effort to stem the tide of “fools” who have overwhelmed Republican ballots in recent seasons. Check out the language Chamber strategist Scott Reed used in announcing the new campaign:

Our No. 1 focus is to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no loser candidates… That will be our mantra: No fools on our ticket.

Good luck with that.

The primary NSA issue isn’t privacy, it’s authority

Government’s access to that data must be determined, in turn, by a separate and much more stringent set of laws born of the principles set forth in the Bill of Rights and built with the knowledge that government has the means to use our information against us, in secret. Does theNSA’s mass collection, analysis, and use of communications metadata violate the Fourth Amendment? I think it does because it acts as surveillance over innocent citizens, treating all of us as criminals in government’s dragnet without probable cause or due process. Or as Jay Rosen puts it: “My liberty is being violated because ‘someone has the power to do so should they choose.’ Thus: It’s not privacy; it’s freedom.”

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Dec
20

Friday Open Thread

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For those who missed Barry’s comment, the Nation‘s John Nichols included “Mountain Moral Monday” in the Progressive Honor Roll of 2013 as “Most Valuable Protest” in America this year:

When up to 10,000 North Carolinians rallied August 5 on Mountain Moral Monday in Asheville, the Rev. William Barber II, president of the state NAACP, announced: “This is no momentary hyperventilation and liberal screaming match. This is a movement.” The protests against legislative attacks on voting rights, public education and programs for low-income families began last spring at the state Capitol in Raleigh. But when the GOP-controlled legislature adjourned, the massive rally in Asheville signaled that the movement had spread. Barber declared that “from the mountains to the coast,” there is a movement for “a new South, a new North Carolina and a new future.”

What makes your Honor Roll?

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The cattle barons are nervous and getting reckless.

The United States has come to resemble those iconic westerns with a Wild West economy in which cattle barons rule, politicians and lawmen are on their payrolls, and struggling settlers are either compliant or prey.

But after the 2008 crash and bailout on Wall Street, one after another Occupy, the Consumer Protection Bureau, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Moral Mondays and now Pope Francis have put the cattle barons on notice that their grip on power is weakening.

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Nov
30

Saturday Afternoon Amusement

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The Tampa Bay Times, the home of PolitiFact.com has gone online with PunditFact. The new site fact-checks your favorite (and least favorite) pundits.

PunditFact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times and the Poynter Institute, dedicated to checking the accuracy of claims by pundits, columnists, bloggers, political analysts, the hosts and guests of talk shows, and other members of the media.

The site has been live for less than a month, so the quantity of the rulings is small. But it’s entertaining to see who has gotten the most “Pants On Fire” rulings to date.

Please return to consuming mass quantities.

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Nov
14

Rabbit Punch

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Wow! That’s terrific bunny …

Updated below.

Was Election Day drug bust an attempt to intimidate black voters in NC?

Residents of Mount Gilead, a town of about 1,100 people in central North Carolina, are reeling from a police sting operation that netted 59 arrests the morning of Election Day. All of those arrested were African Americans, all for possession of drugs, alcohol and guns. Some there are questioning the timing of the bust and believe it was an attempt to intimidate African Americans from showing up at the polls that day.

Springfield, IL wants to privatize Abraham Lincoln’s grave

StoneMor Partners, a Pennsylvania based cemetery company, has been quietly talking with Springfield Mayor Mike Houston and other top city officials about taking over management of Oak Ridge Cemetery.Calling StoneMor “a good company,” Houston acknowledged Tuesday that he has spoken with no other firms about taking over cemetery operations. He has said that the city plans to issue a request for proposals aimed at soliciting bids to privatize Abraham Lincoln’s final resting place. The city council must approve any management deal.

Occupy Wall Street: Rolling Jubilee spent $400,000 to purchase debt cheaply from banks before ‘abolishing’ it, freeing individuals from their bills

Rolling Jubilee, set up by Occupy’s Strike Debt group following the street protests that swept the world in 2011, launched on 15 November 2012. The group purchases personal debt cheaply from banks before “abolishing” it, freeing individuals from their bills.

By purchasing the debt at knockdown prices the group has managed to free $14,734,569.87 of personal debt, mainly medical debt, spending only $400,000.

UPDATE: I didn’t want people to miss part three of this series by Josh Holland at Bill Moyers’ place.

Rip-off: High Out-of-Pocket Social Costs are a Stealth Tax on the Middle Class and the Poor

And the irony is that many households pay no income taxes as a result of a policy that conservative politicians have long favored. As David Cay Johnston, author of Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich–and Cheat Everybody Else, told Moyers & Company in October, the situation is primarily due to the child tax credit Republicans put in place in the ’90s. “A married couple with two children does not pay any federal income taxes until they make at least $44,000 a year,” said Johnston. “And with a little bit of tax planning, you could make $70,000 and pay no federal income tax. So the Republicans create this situation where middle-income families with children pay no income tax and then they complain about it.”

That working couples with kids making up to $70,000 are routinely shamed as deadbeats and freeloaders says a lot about the nature of our political discourse regarding these issues.

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MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Dylan Scott of Talking Points Memo take on the misleading media reporting and deceptive insurer letters directed at Obamacare. It’s a version of the nominal vs. effective corporate tax rate debate. You hear more about the “high” U.S. nominal rate and little about what companies actually pay (some pay nothing). The stories about the costs of Obamacare coverage are similar. The stories are all about sticker shock and cancelled policies, with virtually no coverage of what people actually pay.

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Categories : Health Care, Media, National, News
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Oct
30

Can I Be Frank With You?

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Saw this yesterday, but Susie beat me to it. NJ Democrat, Rep. Bill Pascrell :

Susie says, “I have a favorite T-shirt that says, “I’m not angry, I’m from Philly.” I bought it because people always seem to think I’m being hostile when I’m just a little more, um, direct than most people. (If I ever do go ballistic, you’ll know.)”

Pascrell’s target in this “direct” exchange is former interim U.S. attorney and T-party candidate, Rep. Tim Griffin (R – Arkansas), who resigned his earlier job “a day after the BBC broadcast linking him to illegal ‘voter caging.’” Griffin has just announced he will not seek another term so he can spend more time with the family, as they say in Washington.

But perhaps Griffin will be remembered as he didn’t want to be—for the 2004 “voter caging” story. In 2004 the Bush-Cheney campaign and RNC sent mail to voters’ addresses to check whether those addresses were current. If the mail bounced back, the names were “caged,” and the party had reason to challenge the ballots of these voters if they showed up. In 2004, while at the RNC, Griffin received spreadsheets of “caged voters”—a fact that came up during his confirmation process when he was seeking to become a U.S. attorney. Greg Palast, the muckraking journalist who had originally reported the story, also argued that the voters being targeted were disproportinately nonwhite. That sort of discrimination would have been illegal.

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Oct
27

R.I.P., Lou Reed

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What’s that saying about never going full on something or other?
(Video courtesy of dixiegirlz.)



Video streaming by Ustream

Oct
17

Rabbit Punch

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Wow! That’s terrific bunny …

Meet CGI Federal, the company behind the botched launch of HealthCare.gov

(Worked fine for me on Sunday.)

Some people think that the system was underfunded: Donald Berwick, who administered the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2010 and 2011,says the site failed because they didn’t have enough money to build it from the start. Others point fingers at the Department of Health and Human Services, which took years to issue final specifications, preventing CGI from really getting started until this spring.

Either way, it’s clear that the site itself isn’t well constructed: IT professionals told the Wall Street Journal that in addition to specific pieces not working, the whole thing was “built on a sloppy software foundation,” potentially due to the haste with which code was written. Slate described just how difficult it is to coordinate multiple contractors creating different components of a complex Web portal.

The irrational fear of President Obama

Remember false memory syndrome?

Jonathan: Talk more about that. Why are you afraid of him? He’s taller than I am, but he’s barely bigger than I am.

Jackson: Size doesn’t matter. It’s what’s in his heart. He does not have the American people’s best interests at heart. He doesn’t respect the American people as a whole. There have been many veterans groups that asked to have meetings with him or come to the White House and have a picnic on the East Lawn and he said no. And at the same time, this was about two years ago, the Muslim Brotherhood had 1,000 of their people come to the East Lawn for a prayer session.

Capehart: The Muslim brotherhood had….?

Jackson: They had a huge gathering. They had prayer on the East Lawn of the White House. It was in the news.

Men Got Us Into The Shutdown, Women Got Us Out

Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) said on Wednesday afternoon that their female colleagues can take most of the credit for driving the compromise that is expected to temporarily reopen the U.S. government and raise the debt ceiling before Thursday’s deadline.

“Leadership, I must fully admit, was provided primarily from women in the Senate,” McCain said after the bipartisan deal was announced.

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